Found in 12 comments on Hacker News
acidburnNSA · 2016-08-23 · Original thread
You must be right about the cyborgs. I read the same thing, in "Race Against the Machine," by Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee [1] on page 54, where the author cites Kasparov, who wrote (in 2010, regarding the cyborg thing) [2]:

The surprise came at the conclusion of the event. The winner was revealed to be not a grandmaster with a state-of-the-art PC but a pair of amateur American chess players using three computers at the same time. Their skill at manipulating and “coaching” their computers to look very deeply into positions effectively counteracted the superior chess understanding of their grandmaster opponents and the greater computational power of other participants. Weak human + machine + better process was superior to a strong computer alone and, more remarkably, superior to a strong human + machine + inferior process.

It sounds like since then computers have improved enough such that humans no longer help.



lesterbuck · 2014-10-03 · Original thread
There are some strong indications that the boom in manufacturing in China is not permanent. With the decline in the importance of labor, the rise of robots, and the importance of protecting IP in manufacturing, Byrnjolfsson and McAfee suggest that much of manufacturing will be coming home over the next few decades.

"Race against the Machine" is actually a good book about the topic: "In Race Against the Machine, MIT's Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee present a very different explanation. Drawing on research by their team at the Center for Digital Business, they show that there's been no stagnation in technology -- in fact, the digital revolution is accelerating.

" technologies are rapidly encroaching on skills that used to belong to humans alone. This phenomenon is both broad and deep, and has profound economic implications. Many of these implications are positive; digital innovation increases productivity, reduces prices (sometimes to zero), and grows the overall economic pie."

ryanong · 2014-05-03 · Original thread
This is a really awesome book that explains what that it is and how it might work.

Race Against the Machine,

by Erik Brynjolfsson, Andrew McAfee

It has some ideas on how to get from where we are to there. I think the philosophies of Race Against the Machine and Capital in the 21st century are pretty insightful and the truth may be somewhere in between the two.

ErikAugust · 2013-02-16 · Original thread
Been meaning to start reading Race Against The Machine:

As a guy who studied Economics in college and now programs, it's something I think a lot about.

> As I said, I never went to Business school so I’m now hiring folks who know how to scale companies and build out operations.

This is going to sound like a rant - please take it as free advice and worth every penny.

Don't get me wrong, the folks you hired may well be peaches and we love them. But the world has changed - Instagram scaled to ridiculous levels with 8 people and no HR department. Build out operations - you mean repeatable processes right? If they are not already scripts on a server make them so.

You don't need people who deal with the processes of scaling or building out. You need source control tools.

Everything that is repeatable is automatable. Anything being done for the first time is a human's domain.

Everything else is either scripted and so zero marginal cost or is an anchor on your profitability.

I can really recommend this book

jmtame · 2012-07-27 · Original thread
You can compare the hacker schools here: -- if you're interested in learning about the economics, I'd recommend reading Race Against the Machine:

One of our students was just hired, and we've got another who just graduated on sponsorship from another well known startup as part of their hiring process. If you want a full list of the apps our students have built e-mail me at

The bootcamp is really what you make of it, although our focus is on building an application that you could do many things with: show an employer (who appreciates seeing code that you've written as opposed to a resume), show to a potential cofounder, or bootstrap it.

lesterbuck · 2012-07-14 · Original thread
Brynjolfsson and McAfee deal with the stresses on societies to keep up with technology:

Unfortunately, the rate of technological acceleration is increasing, and society is not able to keep up with even the current rate, viz. the huge numbers of unemployed workers with outdated skills. They suggest that the disruptions we have experienced over the last ten years are just a hint of the disruptions coming over the next ten years, with increasing rates of change. It is the elephant in the room for the presidential campaign, but is pretty much being ignored by both sides. They even suggest that in ten years or so, all that manufacturing in China could move back to US soil as factories become completely robotic.

pdelgallego · 2012-06-22 · Original thread
Two essay with opposite views on the relationship between innovation, employment and prosperity, Race Against The Machine [1], and The Great Stagnation [2].

[1] Race Against The Machine: How the Digital Revolution is Accelerating Innovation, Driving Productivity, and Irreversibly Transforming Employment and the Economy

In "Race Against the Machine", economists Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee ask the question: Could technology be destroying jobs? They then expand on that to explore whether advancing information technology might be an important contributor to the current unemployment disaster. The authors argue very convincingly that the answer to both questions is YES.

[2] The Great Stagnation: How America Ate All The Low-Hanging Fruit of Modern History, Got Sick, and Will (Eventually) Feel Better.

Cowen's central idea is that the pace of innovation has slowed, and that we are now on a "technological plateau" that makes further growth challenging. If you consider technology in the broad sense (energy, transportation, home, etc), this makes sense as things have not changed a lot in recent decades. However, I think it is also true that progress has been highly concentrated in information technology and communications, and that things continue to advance rapidly in this area. Cowen notes this but seems to feel that the Internet is the only really major innovation.

Panos · 2012-04-04 · Original thread
Well, we are. Kind of :-)

There are many software applications today that are being seamlessly powered by a combination of human and machine intelligence. For example, Google Books is mainly digitized with OCR but then ReCAPTCHA is used to bring human intelligence for fixing the mistakes of the OCR process.

FD3SA · 2011-12-11 · Original thread
A very salient point, which is a frequent discussion topic on HN. If you are interested, the following books are excellent primers:

DevX101 · 2011-11-05 · Original thread
You're absolutely right. And I think the reason people don't talk directly about the issue enough, is because we really don't know what to do about it.

There are many jobs that are now obsolete, or will be due to technological progress. Not only are many 'labor' jobs being rendered obsolete, but so are many 'mundane' white collar jobs.

Toll-booth operators are obsolete (or will be)

Bookkeepers are obsolete (or will be)

Many back-office support-services can be automated or re-located

All cashiers could potentially be made obsolete

Many retail sales could be made obsolete (as people shop online)

Where do all these people go? During the last technological revolution, there was a relatively smooth transition from farming to manufacturing. But I honestly don't see how large swathes of the population that don't have specialized skills will fit in in the new economy.

Most of the people reading this comment will do just fine. But we face the really tough questions when dealing with the increasingly large number of people who don't have skills that are in the demand. And even if they all got the skills, employers simply wouldn't need all of them as labor becomes increasingly leveraged.

A couple professors fro MIT just wrote an e-book called 'Race Against the Machine' discussing this phenomena.

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